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Strictly Albums Of The Year: Strange Mercy

Released 12th September 2011 on 4AD

Chart Performance: Strange Mercy is St. Vincent most successful album to date reaching an astounding no.19 slot on the US chart.

What The Critics Said: “The modulations and switches in pace remain as bold as ever, and Clark has a knack for memorable melody and a winning voice with shades of Kate Bush and Leslie Feist.” The Observer

Since parting company with the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens what seems like an eternity ago, St. Vincent had been steadily earning critical admiration. Actress, her second album, seemed to tip the scales over the edge as the star approached full on darling status; but despite two highly regarded albums, she was yet to produced the kind of unquestionable statement that transforms an act from a self contained niche to a full blown commercial success.

Now let’s not get carried away, Strange Mercy hasn’t flung St. Vincent into the charts, far from it, but it has proved to the be the record that bridges the gap between the abrasive extremes of high art and the shameless banality of straight pop. Strange Mercy has the feel of a grueling blender. One that has given birth to a hard, but addictive LP who’s edges are still jagged, who’s compositions are defiantly daring, but who has settled down into swirling amorphous mass that pulls in gently only to slap you down hard.

At times the record will feel like punishment, with brutally abrasive guitars and harsh tones but it’s all underpinned by a soothing sorrow. Equally the albums divinely delicate moments (“Surgeon”) may glide humanely on the surface but they’re a lyrical quagmire of depression and vicious imagery. Strange Mercy is a mess. It’s a horrid overload of ideas. It’s crammed to bursting with rich strings, blazing guitars, beautiful melodies, and suicidal tendencies, and at times it’ll overwhelm, but somewhere in this murkily irresistible mix lies the most irrepressible brilliant albums of the year. It’s confounding, but you wouldn’t want it any other way. David Hayter

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Author: david

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